Touring Trieste in Italy

Jay helps out Michael and James

Dave the motorhome is still parked under the flyover in Trieste, Italy.

It was the heat rather than the sound of the traffic on the flyover that kept me awake last night. Jay slept like a log and was first up and showering this morning. After breakfast we set off to look around Trieste, by 10am it was already 25c. We followed the shore to the centre of the town, then when Charlie decided he’d had enough (he told us this by standing still in the shade and refusing the move), we found a quiet spot by  steps into the sea and rested. A cool sea breeze wafted over us as Jay tried to get Charlie to go for a swim to cool him down – luckily the panting pooch refused as we later saw jellyfish in the canal running from the sea.

The centre of Trieste is full of very grand looking buildings, many of them very old, but the more recent ones hide the scars of it’s past. One hundred years ago, Trieste belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy. I don’t remember them being mentioned in history at school, maybe I wasn’t paying attention, so I’ve done a little digging on the t’interweb. The Habsburgs were Kings and Queens based in Vienna who’s empire stretched from Holland to Russia and lasted for more than 600 years. Yet less than 100 years after their demise, hardly anyone knows about them. I guess it would be a bit like the end of our Royal family today and your grand children not knowing anything about them, or the Commonwealth either.

Anyway as World War One ended, so did the Habsburgs and victorious Italy moved into Trieste. Names were switched to Italian and the decades that followed involved ongoing border disputes, forced Italianization, Nazi occupation, the decimation of the Jewish population and the formation of the only concentration camp on Italian soil. At the end of the Second World War, Trieste belonged to the Allied Forces. It’s territories were split once more and within a few years it settled into the borders it uses today.

As we walked along the canal we passed one of the largest Synagogues in Europe. It was built in 1912 but desecrated in 1942 during the Nazi occupation. However the 1500 Jews who remained in Trieste after the war restored it back to it’s former glory. We stopped just next to it for a bite to eat in one of the cafes. When we asked for the menu, the waiter disappeared, then he returned and said ‘you can have pasta with tomato, or pasta with meat’! Tough choice, seeing as the meat one had tomato in it anyway. Trieste is the town where Hungarian Francesco Illy made two coffee breakthroughs. He devised a method for maintaining the quality of freshly roasted coffee so it could be delivered to other locations rather than roasting it on site, and invented the first automatic coffee machine which is the predecessor of today’s expresso machines. He also started up the Illy coffee company which is still based here, so Jay had an expresso with his pasta, a true Italian lunch.

We made our way through the town heading for the castle, it was in the middle somewhere and on top of a hill. We’d been unable to find tourist information to get a map, so aimed for the streets going up. The plan worked and soon we found ourselves in the garden of remembrance. Nothing was in English, so we couldn’t really tell what all the monument and plaques were for, but there were an awful lot of them. In one part of the garden stones laid scattered across the ground each with a persons name on who died in the war. Another part had a memorial to the resistance, another to those who died trying to defuse bombs and mines after the war. We also saw a monument to a group of people who died on the same day, it included women and children and looked as if it might have been from a bomb that was dropped.

At the top of the hill we found the castle, here we were introduced to Michael and James who rang the bell on the town hall clock from 1876 to 1972. They were replaced by a new Mike and Jack as the weather was taking it’s toll on these two, so they’re now resting. Just outside the castle was a pile of rubble, but on closer inspection it turned out to be Roman rubble, it looks like Italy has too much Roman stuff that it just leaves it lying around.

We then headed for the Roman theatre and were surprised to find several buildings inside buildings dotted around the city. They have tinted glass windows so you can see in, but are all locked up. It looks like the city is trying to preserve some of it’s Roman and/or Medieval history which has already been built on top of. On our walk back I used google maps to guide us across the city rather than the longer route around by the shore – it’s a shame it isn’t 3D as we exerted more energy going up and over than we would have in extra kilometers going round. Still it means we’ve earned our beers tonight.

Charlie has been flat out under the table since we got back, he walked so far every time we stopped he kept lying down. We’re all a bit shattered from the sightseeing, so we’ve coughed up another €4 to stop under the flyover again tonight. Saturday seems like a good day to go back into Slovenia.

Ju x


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